Tag Archives | Sue Ann Gleason

The Language of Loss by Sue Ann Gleason

language-of-lossForget everything you were about to say.
And the days you can’t bear
to pick up the phone
because you know the news
will be the same
and you feel the weariness
of the stalwart.
And you wonder how long a body
can go without sleep in service
to the one she loves.
And you feel helpless
and hapless
despite the knowing,
the bone deep knowledge
that there are forces so much
greater than you
at work here.
And isn’t that what this one precious
life is?
She said we had to be willing
to live in the mystery.
And yet, regret slips in.
She always does.
Relentless.
Hovering.
Her cadence
the language of loss.
This morning we are awash in rain
as if to say, See? I told you today
would be dismal.
Pick up the receiver.
It will feel like a barbell.
Stop this inner lament.
It’s your turn to be brave.

About the Author: Sue Ann Gleason

Sue Ann GleasonNourishment guide, SoulCollage® Facilitator, and ‘wise business’ strategist, Sue Ann Gleason is a lover of words, a strong believer in the power of imagination, and a champion for women who want to live a more delicious, fully expressed life. She has been featured in Oprah and Runner’s World magazines and numerous online publications.

When not working with private clients or delivering online programs, Sue Ann can be found sampling exotic chocolates or building broccoli forests in her mashed potatoes.

You can connect with her in a few different places. Delicious freebies await you!
nourished living | wise business | instagram

Conversations Over Coffee: Rochelle Vincente Von K

Conversations Over Coffee with MCL

Interacting with talented human beings doing delicious things in the world is one of my greatest joys and pleasures. Add a healthy dose of chocolate and it’s a treat like no other. I remember the first time I encountered Lover Chocolate; I had to know more about the story behind this “shamanic heart food.”

I think you’ll find this Conversation Over Coffee as luscious as the chocolate. Meet Rochelle Vincente Von K.!

Tell us about your background… how your childhood affected your choices, your training, how did you come to choose music (and food) as your profession, etc.

I was born in Austria and grew up in Australia. Even though I was in Australia my parents spoke German at home and I didn’t learn English until I went to school. My parents stayed in touch with all the Austrian traditions so I grew up as an Austrian Australian. Fully immersed in both cultures!

I had an awesome brother, Herbert, who was born healthy, vaccine, injured and became severely brain-damaged and autistic; this all happened before I was born, he was my big brother. We had an amazing relationship and looked after each other, but there was always an incredible amount of pain in watching him suffer so deeply. I still carry that.

When I was nine,  I decided I wanted to contribute to the world and suggested to mum I ask the shop down the road if I can dust their shelves!!! My mum suggested if I want to work, then perhaps I could do something where I earn a little more per hour!

I was enrolled in a modelling school as a test to see if I’d like it, and then won Miss Junior Victoria! I started in a kid’s agency but was then accepted as the youngest child model in an adult agency in Australia, and from there I was off and away! … Vogue, Harper’s Bizarre, Elle Magazine, etc.

Through castings,  I got acting gigs, and started working as a professional dancer, and then went into singing after Femi Taylor (Oola from Return of the Jedi) wanted me to audition for her band while she was off to England for Christmas. She asked me if I sang, I said ‘Yes, in the shower”. I auditioned and to my surprise got the gig.

It really was just rolling from one thing to another, it kinda chose me, and I never went to school to learn it, I just had great classes and workshops on weekends when I wasn’t working or at school. I studied with the best singing teachers, acting coaches, dance teachers, etc. in my down time.

When I think back now though, I am surprised because it came so naturally. I already knew what to do; they were simply fine tuning me. And even when I was off track, such as working for Virgin Cinemas in Brighton, UK in-between gigs, that popcorn chick job led me to touring with Dubstar and The Lightening Seeds.

Same with the food, coming from an Austrian household it was normal to cook quite extravagant things… so while I was living in England, because it rained so much, the thing to do was experiment with food. I had health issues and I needed to create more interesting things to eat with my limiting diet… and long story short, that is how my raw chocolate company was born.

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What fascinates us even more than the any facet of your professional world, how you nourish your craft as a musician and actor….tell us about that.

I try to look after myself. I am deeply inspired by nature, snow, hot springs, but I also love galleries, movies and parties. I try to live as intuitive to my nature as possible.

I got very overwhelmed when I started to realize, in life, that the more you know, the less you actually know, so I stopped beating myself up about that ! I’ve integrated my art into my life and who I am, but then, I did start when I was 9! So in a way it’s all I’ve ever known.

Can you tell us more about your music? How do you produce your unique electronic sound?

I have always been inspired by electronica. I love everything, but English and German electronica spoke to me to my core as a kid. So I moved there and got busy!

It depends on the situation. Sometimes I will program up my own beats, chords and then write the lyrics and melodies over that, give it to a producer and he can work on the music programming side. Or I’ll collaborate with a producer where he gives me music to write over. I prefer to collaborate with people than write on my own. Now I have a band with a guitarist, Nazim Chambi, and drummer, Ryan Carnes, I haven’t worked with a drummer for a long time, so it’ll be really interesting to see how we write together !!! I’m excited to see this new era unfold.

Writing music is another thing I fell into.

My boyfriend in Australia (at the time) and I decided to record some music. I thought he was going to write songs for me to sing, and he turned to me and said ‘no, I am giving you the music, you are doing the rest!’ I nearly fell off my chair, talk about tough love! I asked how he thought I would do that and he said ‘You’ve heard a song right? Go listen to some songs you like!’ I was SO mad at him !!! The funny thing is, the very first song we wrote was chosen by a famous Australian artist for their album, but they wanted to take my name off it and put theirs on, so I’d be a ghost writer. And I said no.

In what way did the beat of the waltz call to you? And how did you shift to your ethereal sound after earlier working with a more “punk” style of music?

It was another case of falling into it… I was working on some songs with the amazing music producer Stephen Hague, and in my down time I started working on this other project. I essentially wrote 2 albums at the same time. So much music was coming out of me that I was literally looping beats in Logic Audio, writing AND recording the lyrics and melodies in real time. Most of the waltz album is first takes as I was discovering the songs myself. It was a magical time, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that again !

My band with music producer Marc Adamo, Product.01, was song based but thrown into the dance world, so we were quite different to everything else going on at the time, and I’m not sure we ever really fit in but that’s the world that adopted us. It was a fun ride!

My vocals have always been naturally ethereal thou so this feels like the logical next step.

Your music videos are so full of nuance, beauty, and edginess.  Tell our readers more about concept of music to recording to creating a video.

Thank you for saying so, it means a lot. We didn’t have a budget for the music video. So we were limited but it was a fun process. For myself personally, the music video process is the same as any other creative process in my life. I wait for the signs and I go with them. I wait for the music to tell me what it wants. Sometimes I’ll have an idea but then as it evolves it’ll lead to a completely different place. Then working with the director Jeff Skeirik was a beautiful process because he’s great at putting a story together.

My brain explodes off in a zillion directions. I love music videos that don’t necessarily make sense as I’m a very visual person and I fall in love with the little things…And Jeff would help me reel it in. I have never in my life lacked creativity in any area, but I do wait for the impulse and then it’s more about pulling it back.

When I first moved to LA I was taken to the Day Of The Dead festival at Hollywood Forever and it had a deeper impact. I love the way Mexicans celebrate rebirth. Jeff was with me that day, which is interesting, as at the time we had no idea that some years later we would be making this video!    (Here’s a link to the video for Blazing, Directed by Jeff Skeirik)

With my next single Deal Me In, I hadn’t even thought about the music video for it, but this week it started speaking to me, life started putting things in my path for it, and I’m listening!

And how is it recording VS live gigs?

I love both. I find studio work more inner, and live is very outer.  Studio is a quiet process for me and live is loud! I have never liked being on stage to be honest. What I love is connecting with the band and going into that place together, and then the audience feels that and joins us. Music creates a remarkable energetic connection, especially when you are playing at a music festival surrounded by nature. You have nature, sunset or stars, music and people all vibing together. Magic!

rochelle1

You are a singer, a songwriter, an actress, a dancer. How/when did you find yourself entering the world of Lover Raw Chocolate?

It’s a challenge. I had a car accident and had to pull back from everything in order to heal from a brain injury, and it forced me to restructure everything, because I couldn’t do anything! I am in talks with a manufacturer regarding taking Lover to the next level. It’s physically impossible for 1 person to do everything … the chocolate started as band merchandise, instead of t-shirts, super food chocolate! I never imagined it would take off as it has!

Tell us about your Reiki work.

Another accident I stumbled upon! My band way back when was in the countryside in England at a friend’s cottage, and his mum happened to be teaching a Japanese Reiki Level 1 course.  It was already full but we crashed the course! I was very skeptical at first, and almost sarcastic about it… but it very quickly showed me whose boss, I was whipped into place! As it turns out I was lucky to learn from one of the best Reiki Masters in England, who knew?!

Then I figured since it’s free energy, and you can’t put the toothpaste back into the tube, you can’t unlearn what you learn,  so since that weekend I have done my daily practice and never skipped a day since 1999…  and let’s just say, it’s accumulative ! Additionally I certainly never planned to be a Reiki Master Teacher, have clients and students around the world, and a Reiki App called 97 Reiki Tips! (Which is for entry-level students, before they begin).

I was actually a closet Reiki person for many years but after some unquestionable life saving miracles I knew I had to share it. So, it’s been quite the unexpected journey!

How does your Reiki work influence your music? And how has it influenced your Lover Chocolate recipe. Be as detailed as you like here. I think our readers will eat this up!

I do my daily practice so that keeps me healthy and energized, and clears out anything that shouldn’t be there, but also I have had rare situations where I have been sick and needed to sing that evening. I remember one particular time Product.01 had a live performance on a TV show in Manchester and my throat was so sore I could barely swallow. We caught the train up from London and I was terrified! I kept my hands on my throat and did a treatment all the way up and by the time we got there it had cleared and I was so much better, and could sing!

Since everything I do tends to dovetail somehow, I formulated the Lover recipe based on the hara energy points (from the traditional Japanese Reiki system), known as The Three Diamonds! The Three Diamonds correspond to the energies of Earth; our base hara – Maca, Heaven; our Pineal Gland – Purple Corn Extract, and Oneness of Heart – Raw Chocolate!

What are your personal chocolate eating habits?

Gosh! My chocolate habits have always been pretty crazy. Ask my mum about having to hide chocolate from my brother and I in all corners of the house, hiding it so well she didn’t know where she’d hid it, and we’d still find it. Or it’d end up dripping out from under a deck chair she forgot about and was sitting on. I would be able to inform my friends which shops were selling the freshest chocolate that week! So nothing has changed, it’s just now I eat wild heirloom stoneground super food chocolate with no refined sugar or dairy. My breakfast consists of a green juice and raw chocolate. Always!

Would you like to tell us about your music and how that intersects with your love of chocolate?

It doesn’t really come together like that. I was having serious health problems in England and had to get creative, as I am a foodie to the core. So when I needed a break from the studio I’d be in the kitchen doing some raw chocolate wizardry. It was also great for touring because often you arrive in a new city and shops are closed, there’s nothing to eat, so it would keep me going. In that sense I guess the raw chocolate would fuel my ability to perform on the road.

Italian Vegan product shot

You have a lot of chocolate accolades on your site. What are you most proud of?

Doing the Academy Awards dressing rooms and green room year after year has been exciting. Especially when you hear of certain actors calling The Academy specifically requesting they have my chocolate in their dressing room again! I make this chocolate for everyone; the success it’s had has been an organic process (pardon the pun)! But any acknowledgement from someone who has positively influenced my life means a lot.

Will you tell us about your production process for your chocolates (and where is it made)?

I currently make the chocolate myself, yes really, it’s artisan madness! But that’s changing, because otherwise it can’t reach all the people constantly complaining that they can’t access it easily, so I’m really excited about that. The rest will have to remain a mystery for now!

How about the name? I think our readers would love to know more about “the lover”!

So many reasons! Raw chocolate is a shamanic heart food, abundant in nutrients; vitamins & antioxidants, with over 300 compound minerals. I joke about eating it a lot but I actually don’t advise that for most people. I have always been able to eat large amounts of it as I had a magnesium and iron deficiency and it healed that amongst other things. Most people should only really have 2-3 hearts of Lover Raw Chocolate a day. It’s raw, it doesn’t have fillers, it’s infused with other super foods, and it’s potent.

Raw chocolate opens the heart due to the magnesium (back in the day doctors used to inject a property of it into heart attack patients to revive them!), it releases bliss chemicals in the brain.. also vanilla (which is cooling when consumed) wraps itself around cacao trees (which is warming when consumed) in the rainforest, so they are literally lovers.. Cacao trees sustain rainforests and the wildlife within it, plus the more trees the more oxygen for us, so the more consciously sourced chocolate we eat the better it is for our planet. And I wanted to see the word love on billboards around the world.

We all need more love. It’s just one big LOVE fest.

We certainly loved our conversation with Rochelle Vincente Von K!  Connect with Rochelle on her website.  You’ll also find her on YouTube  | Instagram | Twitter . Learn more about Lover Raw Chocolate here.

Photos by Alex Huggan

About the Interview: Sue Ann Gleason

Sue Ann GleasonNourishment guide, SoulCollage® Facilitator, and ‘wise business’ strategist, Sue Ann Gleason is a lover of words, a strong believer in the power of imagination, and a champion for women who want to live a more delicious, fully expressed life. She has been featured in Oprah and Runner’s World magazines and numerous online publications.

When not working with private clients or delivering online programs, Sue Ann can be found sampling exotic chocolates or building broccoli forests in her mashed potatoes.

You can connect with her in a few different places. Delicious freebies await you!
nourished living | wise business | instagram

Don’t Assume the ‘Good Death’ by Sue Ann Gleason

Screen shot 2016-05-16 at 12.50.37 PM

I am awakened from a dream. In it I can’t stop scratching. I look at my arms, my legs, my hands. They’re fine. There’s nothing there. I have these dreams occasionally. I call them death residue, unfinished business. I know this one is about the time I found him scratching, scratching, scratching and when I pulled up his pajama leg to see what was wrong I found that he had scratched his skin until it bled. There were scabs up and down his legs and no one from the nursing home had noticed. Or, if they had noticed, they hadn’t done anything about it. Until I took photos of those legs and sent them to the nursing home doctor. After that, “lubricate” became a doctor’s order.

Mostly my dad shows up in my dreams as his younger, more vibrant self and we’re sharing a meal or he’s cutting slices of an apple and handing them to us. He loved to feed us. In another dream I’m looking around the table at my family trying to communicate to them with nods, no words, that they should be taking this in. We’re a family again. Like somehow I know this dream is really a ‘visitation’ but they don’t know that. And I want them to know what a gift this is: Dad, alive and luminous and laughing, if even for a moment. If even in another dimension entirely.

My dad died. Twice.

One day he was larger than life, a laughing, loving, effusive man who talked so much you could hardly get a word in. And the next? Flat. No affect. Silent. A stent surgery opened his valves and shut down parts of his brain. The doctors thought it was depression. They tried all kinds of antidepressants to shake him out of the abyss. One drug did just that for a short period of time but it made him manic. On one occasion he purchased a camera, a carpet and a new car. All in one night.

During the manic episode he called me every night for two weeks while my mother escaped to the patio to commune with her Red Hat Ladies. He would talk and talk and talk. Nonstop. I stayed on the phone with him night after night caught in a tangle of grief and gratitude because even though I knew his behavior was extreme, I was grateful to hear the lift in his voice again. I wanted to believe he was back.

It didn’t last.

Pretty soon my dad fell back into the abyss. He lost more and more weight. The spring in his step became a shuffle. Never a very nurturing woman to begin with my mother grew more and more agitated with him, “Pick up your feet when you walk.” “Sit up.” “Drink some water.” “Eat. For God’s sake, eat.”

The Homestead, an adult day care center, provided her with daily support and the most competent, loving group of caregivers one could hope for. But after six years she could no longer bear the burden of his care. I’ll never forget the day she decided to place my dad in an assisted living facility. My sister called me on Skype. Her eyes were swollen; I could see that she had been crying. My father’s words were still ringing in her ears, “She’s kicking me out.” Even in his current state of cognitive decline, with limited capacity to feel and express emotion, my dad still understood abandonment.

I flash back to my very first job. I’m a waitress in a lovely retirement home called Beechwood. The residents there enjoy spacious rooms overlooking gardens. They eat beautiful meals served in an elegant dining room with rosewood tables and candlesticks. I have my own row of tables and I know everyone in my charge by name and by diet.

Ma and Pa Smith are my favorites. 


They walk into the dining room every night like lovers on their first date. I imagine I will one day have a relationship just like that. My sixteen-year-old self has no idea how rare that kind of longstanding love truly is.

At Beechwood, birthdays are celebrated once a month at a big long table placed grandly in front of the dining room, much like the bridal table at a wedding. Steak and cake. Pa Smith waves to Ma from his place at the head table throughout the meal and Ma waves back, a huge smile crossing her lips. Then, Pa carefully wraps his cake in a paper napkin to share with her later in the quiet of their suite. We call their room the honeymoon suite.

Beechwood has two separate units, the retirement home and E-wing. E-wing is where the residents move when they can no longer care for themselves independently. They don’t dine on rosewood tables with candlesticks in E-wing. Mostly, they have trays delivered to their rooms, and on occasion, they are wheeled to the communal dining room where they eat with fellow residents. Meals on wheels.

My dad took up residence in an assisted living facility called The Peaks. It was nothing like Beechwood. Not even E-wing.

I walk into the front lobby and I feel comforted by the giant birdcage and the pleasant arrangement of magazines that adorn the contemporary stone table between two cozy chairs. I fail to notice that the magazines are outdated copies of Runner’s World. It’s been a very long time since any of the residents here needed to know how to prepare for the next big race.

The marketing director ushers me into her office, heels clicking. She assures me that my dad will be well cared for here. “The staff is warm and dedicated.” She doesn’t tell me they are overworked, underpaid, and for the most part, completely ignorant of the specialized needs of the aged.

Next comes the tour.

I see a great big white board, the activity schedule. “We like to keep our residents stimulated!” she chirps. Supposedly there are activities throughout the day. Some are in the assisted living wing. Others are in long-term care. 

We spend almost two hours crafting my father’s care plan. “How many showers would you like him to have each week? Three? No problem. We can’t guarantee the days you request, but we’ll do our best to fit him into the schedule.”

“What were his interests? Did he have any hobbies? Oh, he was a watercolor painter? We’ll be sure to make time each day for Sam to draw in his sketchpad. What are his favorite foods? He likes pork tenderloin? Spaghetti? Chicken? Great, we’ll make a note of that.”

I leave the office feeling hopeful, clutching the care plan, a promise that my dad will be nurtured in his new home. The room is ready. It’s time to get him settled in. I imagine this is what it feels like to send your child off to his first day of school. Only this isn’t kindergarten. This isn’t a room full of frolicking children dancing around a loving teacher, cheery music playing in the background. This is a lonely little room with a tired armchair, a threadbare carpet, and a hospital-like bed with a mattress that is a foot too short for its frame. The heat is blasting from the radiator. There is no thermostat in the room. It’s April.

I leave the room to get some air.

The silence in the corridors is deafening—no sign of life anywhere—certainly no sign of the activities that are plastered all over the bulletin board.

As I walk through the long-term care wing I find myself praying my father doesn’t live long enough to enter these rooms. The long-term care wing looks like a war torn hospital. Curtains between beds provide the only privacy for the residents there. White spindly legs peek out from under the covers. It’s 3:00 in the afternoon but it may as well be midnight.

My dad spent thirteen grueling months at the Peaks before I could get him moved to a more appropriate setting.

Ten years is an awfully long time to linger in this in between place. Death before death. Yet linger he did. 

It’s a sunny afternoon. I’m sitting with my husband in an outdoor café. We have just come from his father’s hospital room where we are making plans to move yet another beloved dad into an assisted living center, albeit this one much lovelier than The Peaks. The hospital is releasing my husband’s father to hospice the very next day. The vibration of my cell phone jars me. In the deluge of details we are sorting through to be sure his dad’s transition is smooth if not seamless, I forget that I have a phone conference scheduled with my own dad’s hospice team this very afternoon.

The setting isn’t ideal but at least there is cell reception. And wine. This is supposed to be a ‘routine’ care conference. The hospice nurse tells me later that they had been prepared to release my dad from their care because he had, once again, reached a plateau. But this afternoon they are seeing a serious decline. This time it appears to be his last downward spiral.

“Come.”



My suitcase was still packed. It had made its way from California to Annapolis and now, Colorado. I remember ordering dinner at that cafe and not tasting a thing on my plate. I just wanted to be on that plane which wasn’t leaving until early the next morning. “Eat,” my husband urged, but food was the last thing on my mind. I called the night nurse in my father’s skilled nursing home three times that night. I needed to know he was tending my dad with a wide-open heart and loving hands. I felt pretty helpless actually, but somehow just hearing a voice at the other end of the line and remembering this nurse from my last visit gave me peace enough to sleep, though fitfully, until we could make our way to the airport.

He waited.

As much as I thought I’d be ready for my dad’s passing, I wasn’t fully prepared to say goodbye. He was my anchor, the one I could count on to show me the brighter side of anything and everything. He didn’t die the way I hoped he’d die—the way I hope I’ll cross that threshold—in the comfort of my own home, in my own bed, warm and cozy and cognizant. The reality was that as much as I cared for my dad and fought for his dignity, it was never enough. Even with well-meaning caretakers, so many things fall through the cracks. Those are the dreams that still haunt me.

I had never before had the privilege of holding someone close as they passed.

Dying is, indeed, a sacred act.

My little family gathered together in this liminal space sharing slices of my dad’s life as he took his last breath. Somehow I know he was listening.

About the Author: Sue Ann Gleason

Sue Ann GleasonNourishment guide, SoulCollage® Facilitator, and ‘wise business’ strategist, Sue Ann Gleason is a lover of words, a strong believer in the power of imagination, and a champion for women who want to live a more delicious, fully expressed life. She has been featured in Oprah and Runner’s World magazines and numerous online publications.

When not working with private clients or delivering online programs, Sue Ann can be found sampling exotic chocolates or building broccoli forests in her mashed potatoes.

You can connect with her in a few different places. Delicious freebies await you!
nourished living | wise business | instagram

Why Not? by Sue Ann Gleason

art journal_500

She is the first in line. With her collage and splash painting standing precariously between her carry on and camera bag, she reaches into her purse for her ID and hands it to the ticket agent at the United Airlines counter.

“Are you the artist?” asks the agent.

Looking behind her for the artist and finding none, she turns back to the agent and sputters, “No, this was just an exercise. I was playing with watercolors.”

“You should frame it,” she says.

Getting through airport security is always an adventure. The woman ahead of her fills five plastic bins. Toiletries, shoes, and various electronic devices tumble and spill as fellow travelers grab their belongings and scramble to make their flights. Grabbing her carry on items from the conveyor belt she shuffles back into her shoes and glances at her poster boards to see how they fared. The collage is still intact but the watercolor piece looks a little tattered. The gentleman standing beside her asks, “Are you an artist?” “No,” she replies. “Just playing in paint.” He smiles and says, “I like it.”

The airport is especially busy this morning, people bumping and jostling their way through the crowd, all in a very big hurry to get to their next destination. At least she’s early. She likes having time to dally a bit before catching her plane. Sourdough bread. Yes, she can’t leave San Francisco without a loaf of that. The line isn’t too long, thankfully. The woman in front or her chooses a thick, creamy soup ladled into a hollowed out, crusty sourdough bowl. For a minute she contemplates the same but the thought of savoring bits and pieces of that loaf on the long flight home is far more appealing. She reaches for a little jar of blueberry jam. The young man behind the cash register asks, “Are you the artist?” She looks at her watercolor splash and thinks, why not

“Yes,” she replies.
 

About the Author: Sue Ann Gleason

Sue Ann GleasonNourishment guide, SoulCollage® Facilitator, and ‘wise business’ strategist, Sue Ann Gleason is a lover of words, a strong believer in the power of imagination, and a champion for women who want to live a more delicious, fully expressed life. She has been featured in Oprah and Runner’s World magazines and numerous online publications.

When not working with private clients or delivering online programs, Sue Ann can be found sampling exotic chocolates or building broccoli forests in her mashed potatoes.

You can connect with her in a few different places. Delicious freebies await you!
nourished living | wise business | instagram

 

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